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Updated at 2:55 p.m. with a letter from Missouri's congressional delegation.

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday asked President Donald Trump’s administration for a major disaster declaration as the state continues to fight an outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Parson’s office, in a Wednesday news release, said the governor requested crisis counseling and disaster unemployment assistance statewide under a Federal Emergency Management Agency program.

The governor also wants FEMA to assist nonprofits and local governments with outbreak-related expenses, and said he wants federal help to dispose of any bio-hazard materials related to the outbreak.

“Although it is continuing to develop, it’s already clear the COVID-19 pandemic will have a more sweeping impact on the entire state of Missouri than any other previous disaster that has affected our citizens,” Parson said in a news release. “There is an urgent need for federal assistance to help Missouri families meet today’s challenges and the many more that we will face.”

Missouri's entire U.S. congressional delegation — eight U.S. representatives and two senators — sent a letter to Trump Wednesday urging him to support the declaration.

The delegation said that in many communities "efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus are constrained by inadequate access to resources, including personal protective equipment.

"We respectfully request your prompt action to ensure that our communities receive the immediate support needed to respond to this unprecedented disaster," the delegation said.

Parson’s office also said the U.S. Small Business Administration had approved the state’s request for low-interest federal disaster loans for small businesses. 

As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, there were 255 known cases of COVID-19 in Missouri, up from 183 cases on Monday. The state had reported five deaths.

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• Area events canceled or postponed

• Read the list of canceled sports events

• COVID-19 cases in Missouri by county

• COVID-19 cases in the United States

• CDC fact sheet: Prevention and treatment

Jack Suntrup • 573-556-6184

@JackSuntrup on Twitter

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